By Emme Punches,
Special Olympics Massachusetts Events Coordinator
For Bennet Johnson, mile 21 of the Boston Marathon was where it all started. Right after the runners crest of Heartbreak Hill and looking toward the finish line with tired legs and sore feet, the runners are greeted by, quite possibly, the most enthusiastic group of spectators the race has to offer. The students of Boston College line this exact spot. Offering endless amounts of spirited well wishes as the runners push towards the finish line. Three years ago as Bennet cheered with his classmates for the first time, he set a goal to one day be on the receiving end of the Boston College crowd.
This year Bennet is making his dream a reality and running the marathon for the first time. But his journey is about so much more than a dream, it’s about family. “This is my first marathon, and I am running for my brother Sam. At age three, Sam was diagnosed with severe Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and needs direct supervision from a caregiver or family member 24 hours a day. His first two years of development seemed normal. He smiled, giggled, and repeated words like “Mommy” and “Daddy.” But without warning, Sam gradually lost his vocabulary, and before my parents knew it, their first-born son seemed to have vanished.
“Autism is heartbreaking in that way. One day my brother was smiling at my parents, speaking their names, and the next, he was looking right through them,” said Benet. “Today, Sam cannot speak, go to the bathroom, or take care of himself. But Sam is blessed with caregivers and volunteers who support him, and work to make the most of his abilities. I am inspired by these people and others in organizations that serve people like Sam. Special Olympics is one of the best organizations in the world supporting people with physical and intellectual disabilities.”
Special Olympics Massachusetts is a proud supporter of Bennet as he takes on his first marathon in support of his brother and our 12,000+ athletes across the state.
Support Bennet’s Boston Marathon fundraising efforts TODAY!